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    Date submitted
  • 30-Oct-2017



In the wake of natural disasters, the speed and efficiency of rescue missions can draw the line between life and death. Currently, relief workers must operate with little knowledge and resources to locate and help survivors as quickly as possible, often relying on solely on their own visual and auditory senses to do so. This tiring and unadvanced process can limit the number of lives rescued after a disaster. DroneRelief expedites rescue missions by facilitating existing search operations by equipping rescuers and disaster response workers with inexpensive, lightweight drones equipped with vision technologies, infrared capabilities, and sound detection to search for survivors. The DroneRelief platform focuses on user simplicity in order to work seamlessly with the existing emergency response process and minimizes the impacts of regulatory restrictions on drone operations.

When rescuers approach the area of suspected victims, DroneRelief can be launched in a matter of seconds. Features that work “under the hood” such as audio triangulation of cries for help and computer vision AI analysis of thermal and standard imaging is all compiled by DroneRelief into a single, simple display of information that directly informs the rescuers’ search effort. Within minutes after launch, DroneRelief provides clear intel that informs the rescuers’ ability to move forward safely, identify victims in need of assistance, and reduce time spent searching, all while increasing search coverage areas.

DroneRelief is small enough and light enough to fit in a rescuer’s backpack, while these same design attributes allow for a flight time of 15 minutes, and a backpack-based charging system extends that flight time to 2 hours.

When multiple DroneRelief drones are used to respond to the same disaster, they work as a team, sharing their collected data and coordinating their movements. DroneRelief is also safe to operate at the same time as other aerial vehicles, such as rescue helicopters and larger surveillance drones, move through the area in support of recovery efforts. This safety is ensured by DroneReliefs internal air traffic management system as well as onboard transponders and radio beacons that allow it to safely operate as a normal aircraft in these situations. To increase this safety, all flights remain below 400 feet and all navigation decisions are determined by the onboard flight computer without requiring any skilled input or piloting knowledge from the rescuer/operator.

DroneRelief saves lives by reducing the time, resources, and cost of the disaster response process, all while ensuring the safety of rescuers.

Additional Questions

What problem does this idea/product solve or what market need does it serve?

Our solution includes an affordable, small, and light drone that helps aid workers determine the location of victims or survivors after the passing of a natural disaster, such as a hurricane or flood. Each aid worker would ideally carry multiple of these drones inside a lightweight kit they can store in their backpacks, and charge when not using. When deployed, the drone would make constant announcements that indicate that an aid worker is in the area while aerially scanning the area with a 150-meter radius to record visual, auditory, and potentially motion or thermal detecting data. This data would then be processed and sent to a device used by the aid worker, who could use this data to find potential victims and survivors more efficiently.